George Will

Bill Simon, Gov. Davis' Republican opponent in 2002, lost by 5 percentage points, getting just 24 percent of Latinos and 37 percent of women. With 40 percent of Latinos and 2 percent more of women, he would have won. Boxer's 1998 opponent won just 23 percent of Latinos. In last October's gubernatorial vote, 40 percent of the Latino vote went for Republicans (31 for Schwarzenegger, 9 for State Sen. Tom McClintock). Is Boxer nervous about the Latino vote? Her biography recently noted her membership in ``the Senate's Hispanic Caucus.'' It is nonexistent.

A recent poll showed Jones just four points stronger than Marin against Boxer. Marin campaigning at Bush's side this autumn -- in 2000, he lost California by 1.3 million votes, losing by 1.5 million among women, and winning just 22 percent of Latinos -- would give him huge help with both Latino and women voters.

At Bush's other side will be another immigrant, Schwarzenegger. He will still be riding high -- if on Tuesday his 61 percent job approval translates into voter approval of the linked Propositions 57 and 58.

The former would authorize up to $15 billion to pay accumulated debt ($4 billion of it accumulated by his repeal of the car tax increase that catalyzed the recall of Davis, and another $600 million added last week because the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling that some California corporation taxes are unconstitutional). Borrowing to finance current services is appalling, but Proposition 58 would make amends by requiring the budget to be balanced every year without borrowing, and requiring creation of a ``rainy day'' budget reserve.

If Proposition 57 fails, so does 58, and so, perhaps, does Schwarzenegger's governorship, for two reasons. The policy results would include what he correctly calls ``Armageddon cuts'' in the budget, and severe pressure for tax increases as the state runs out of cash in less than five months. Also, his power to persuade the Legislature depends on the credibility of his threat to submit to voter initiatives important policies the Legislature refuses to adopt. His threat will seem hollow if the bond measure fails.

Schwarzenegger's campaigning probably will pass 57 and 58. The nomination of Marin -- the beating of butterfly wings -- would complete a trifecta, creating optimal conditions for Bush to put California in play.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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